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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish

The illustrious surname Roan is classified as a habitation surname, which was originally derived from a place-name, and is one form of surname belonging to a broader group called hereditary surnames. Habitation names were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Topographic names, form the other broad category of surnames that was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree.

Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. Roan is a place-name from in Rouen, the capital of Normandy. The surname was derived from the Viscountcy of Rohan, in Brittany, in France. As a local name, it could also have been derived from the local at the rowan which referred to a residence beside a rowan-tree. Habitation names were derived from the name of the town, village or hamlet where the person originally lived.


The surname Roan was first found in Durham where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Since the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Roan, Rohan, Roohan, Rome, Rowan and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roan research. Another 163 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 169 and 1692 are included under the topic Early Roan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Roan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Roan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 211 words (15 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Roan, or a variant listed above:

Roan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Mathew Roan, who arrived in Virginia in 1664

Roan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Elizabeth Roan settled with her husband in Georgia in 1733
  • George Roan settled in Georgia in 1733
  • Johannes Jerick Roan, aged 28, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1753
  • Martin Roan, who landed in New Jersey in 1762
  • Charles Martin Roan, who arrived in New Jersey in 1762

Roan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Michael Roan, who landed in Massachusetts in 1812
  • William Roan, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1840


  • Michael Phillip Roan (b. 1972), retired American NFL football tight end
  • Oscar Bennie Roan III (b. 1951), retired American NFL football tight end
  • Paul Roan, American Democrat politician, Member of Oklahoma State House of Representatives 20th District; Elected 2002
  • Nathaniel M. Roan, American politician, Delegate to Whig National Convention from North Carolina, 1839
  • Gary Lee Roan, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1996
  • Mr. Ronald P Roan, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking
  • Mrs. Esther  Roan (1865-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Private First Class Charles Howard Roan (1923-1944), United States Marine, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944, eponym of the USS Charles H. Roan (DD-853)


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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  6. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  7. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  8. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  11. ...

The Roan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Roan Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 19 October 2015 at 16:02.

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